Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition flaunts the ray tracing and 120fps gaming of PS5 and Xbox Series X

We’ve been able to play and preview Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition over the last few days, and it gives us the first taste of what we can expect Capcom to achieve on next generation consoles. Naturally, as a Special Edition, there’s some added content here, from bringing Virgil into the game as a playable character to expand on the story, to the new Legendary Dark Knight difficulty and Bloody Palace challenge mode. However, some of the most interesting aspects are how Capcom are able to update their already outstanding RE Engine for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

RE Engine was obviously named after the Resident Evil series. So far it’s been used through Resident Evil 7 and the two remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, as well as Devil May Cry 5, and it looks like Capcom will continue to use and develop it well into the next generation. Resident Evil: Village (AKA 8) and Pragmata both use it, and they’ve also (quite curiously) scaled back down for the Nintendo Switch and Monster Hunter Rise.

Ever since its debut, RE Engine has been consistently praised for how it’s able to produce stunning visual quality through its lighting and character rendering in particular, while also still performing excellently well on all platforms. It’s allowed Capcom to target 60fps through all of their games, regardless of the console. No, it’s not always met that lofty goal, especially on Xbox One, but it’s felt like RE Engine on the lower powered consoles punch above their weight.

So what about DMC 5 Special Edition? Well, the above video is in 1080p, because that’s where some of the most interesting stuff is happening. Loading the game up on PS5, Capcom give you so many options here.

As a baseline, there’s 4K60, but if you want extra visual effects, you can turn on ray tracing and sacrifice performance. This has the consequence of dropping the frame rate to 4K30, simply by virtue of ray tracing being very GPU intensive. If you want the best of both worlds, you can drop the resolution down to 1080p and have ray tracing at 60fps. Finally, for those that want to shave every millisecond off, there’s 1080p without ray tracing at 120fps – with an ageing 2016 TV, we tried this out by hooking up our PS5 to an Asus VG279QM, which could actually go up to 280Hz with a sufficiently powerful PC!

At the moment there’s no way to effectively show 120fps video through YouTube, other than to slow it down, so that’s what we’ve done for the above video, comparing 120fps to 60fps at half speed. It’s a simple case of adding fluidity and even more responsiveness. 60fps is already great, but 120fps gaming helps to lower input latency just that little bit further, and also (if and when we can add variable refresh rates into the mix), will help remove the judder that any frame rate drops can potentially create.

For an action heavy game like this, and for competitive games like Call of Duty, high refresh rates can be a major boon, and I’m keen to see developers include this kind of option across similar games. It’s not needed universally, but the option doesn’t hurt, and we’re already seeing a number of games start to offer it.

But let’s talk about the ray tracing. It’s a real “Huh, they were faking it that much?” moment as you step into the streets of London in DMC 5’s opening and notice the reflections in the puddles. Ray Tracing isn’t so much about having reflections in the first place, and more about making them more realistic. Whether it was cube maps or screen space reflections, there’s always been a limit to the accuracy of reflections in video games until we’ve been able to add ray tracing alongside those techniques.

It just adds a little more believability to a scene, whether it’s having reflections lining up correctly or being able to reflect something that’s out of sight of your camera view into the game. There’s other benefits that can be much more subtle, with more accurate light diffusion through a scene, better shadowing, and so much more.

However, given how intensive ray tracing can be, developers will have to be selective in how they implement it. The reflective puddles in DMC5 are seemingly of a lower resolution than the main game, in addition to being warped through the water’s surface, and there are plenty of elements that are culled, which could make the cube maps feel a touch more representative at times. You can also sometimes see ray traced reflections pop into existence.

It’s all fascinating stuff though, and a real sign of things to come. There’s already plenty of analysis out there of what Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Ratchet & Clank are doing, and we can add DMC5 Special Edition to that list as well. We’ll obviously be diving into this more over the coming days, weeks and months as we delve into our next-gen coverage for both PS5 and Xbox Series X.

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